European and other members of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group must take back and prosecute their nationals detained in Iraq and Syria to help keep IS from regaining territory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday. Pompeo told foreign ministers and senior officials from some 30 coalition members that it’s imperative that they hold thousands of detained foreign fighters accountable for atrocities committed while the Islamic State held swaths of territory in the two countries. Many of the detained foreign fighters are from Europe, the AP reports, but countries have been reluctant to take them back and officials acknowledged there are still differences of opinion among coalition partners about how best to deal with them.
The meeting came amid concerns about the US commitment to the fight against IS remnants. Those concerns have increased as President Trump has pressed to withdraw American troops from Syria. It was also the first meeting at such a senior level since IS was driven from the last of its major strongholds in March and the first since the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killed himself during a US raid last month. Pompeo said bringing the foreign fighters to justice in their home countries is critical to preventing IS from resurrecting its caliphate and exporting its ideology. "That work begins with carrying out justice against those who deserve it," he said. Recent court rulings in Europe have required the governments to repatriate their nationals, per the Washington Post. The governments “are fighting a losing battle,” one lawyer involved in the cases said.
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